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12 Months of Off-the-Job Safety Topics

Business manager talking to a group of employees at a distribution warehouse

Communication is a vital component of an effective workplace safety program. If you want to foster a culture of safety and prevent potentially serious injuries and fatalities, you need to find a way to engage your employees.

And the best way to engage employees is to speak to them about things that matter to them. While workplace safety is important, your employees are most likely to be interested in keeping their loved ones safe. That’s why talking about safety off the job is so important—plus, it will also get them thinking about safety all the time (which will benefit them during work hours).

Toolbox talks are a great form of communicating with employees, but companies are often so focused on discussing workplace topics that they forget to talk about off-the-job safety too. To make it easier to chat with employees about 24/7 safety, we have put together a list of topics by month to help you develop off-the-job safety toolbox talks.

Winter (December, January, February)

The winter months offer a number of safety-related topics thanks to their various forms of precipitation and low temperatures. And “the other guy” can factor into safety during these months, especially when you rely on them for snow removal, de-icing, maintaining the roads, or even driving safely beside you in icy conditions. These winter off-the-job toolbox talk topics can bring these potential risks to the forefront of workers’ minds.

Beyond the weather, December-specific off-the-job safety talks include holiday stress and human factors, and emergency preparation as it relates to the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. These two topics are great to have on the radar of your employees in December.

January is a good time to focus on “the winter blues”, which are most prominent in December, January and February. Let employees know that what they are feeling is common and provide solutions to help get them out of their funk. The third Saturday in January marks Snowmobile Safety and Awareness Week. Research has shown that over 2 million people in North America use snowmobiles, which results in approximately 200 fatalities and 14,000 injuries annually. This is a great topic for a tailgate talk if anyone on your staff is thinking about riding on a snowmobile this winter. January is Bath Safety Month and because there are a surprisingly large number of injuries at home that happen in the tub, this is an important topic to address—if you’ve already covered slips, trips and falls in your facility, consider adding a bathroom edition of the toolbox talk.

An emergency car kit breakdown is a perfect idea for a February off-the-job safety talk. Standard emergency car kits are great to have on hand, but adding extra items to them will help with comfort and survival, and your employees need to know what they’ll need if they’re ever stranded on the side of the road. Lastly, Disaster Day takes place on February 5 and it brings to light the need to have an emergency plan at home—detailing how to do that makes for a great off-the-job safety talk for February.

Spring (March, April, May)

The effects of winter weather can create a whole host of safety risks in the spring. Seasonal thaws and leftover winter mess can increase the chances of slips, trips, and falls, as well as other traction issues for vehicles. Pair that with the unpredictable weather spring brings like thunderstorms and hail storms to tornadoes, high winds, flash floods and even heat illness—and it’s clear that the spring weather is truly unpredictable. 

March is often the time when people start talking about Daylight Saving Time and losing an hour. But what really needs to be talked about is the daylight sleep debt that is incurred because of the time change. There’s a reason that Sleep Awareness Week begins at the start of daylight saving time each year. You need to talk to employees about the negative effects that a lack of sleep can have on them, and this off-the-job safety topic is one that will really benefit your employees. March is also the month for self-injury awareness and brain injury awareness, and off-the-job safety talks on the topics can help educate employees. Nearly two million Americans engage in self-harm—addressing the topic with a group of people will hopefully decrease the stigma. And 1 in 60 people suffer from a brain injury every year. Human factors training and talking about how easily it can happen can help your employees avoid being in a situation that might cause one. April’s off-the-job safety topics touch on drug and alcohol safety awareness, and May is a good time to gear up for the summer with sun and boating safety awareness.

Summer (June, July, August)

A summer state of mind can typically lead people to not think about risks. And that’s the underlying message of off-the-job safety talks in June, July and August. More incidents happen away from work because you often have someone reminding you of the risks on the job, and this is especially true when more people are on the road for vacation travel.

One weather-related off-the-job safety topic is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, observed the third full week of June. Lightning strikes kill more Americans each year than either tornadoes or hurricanes. Additionally, the summer is a good time to remind employees about the importance of CPR and AED. CPR and AED Awareness Week is June 1–7 every year—the more people who know CPR and know how to use an AED, the more lives that can be saved.

July brings an awareness day that everyone can get behind: International Self-Care Day. Physical and mental well-being are important to the safety of employees so consider delivering a talk on how important self-care is. Another important off-the-job safety topic for July is drowning, 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning and talking about it in the workplace could save lives.

August shifts the off-the-job safety focus to driving. Use toolbox talks to remind everyone about traffic and how your state of mind greatly impacts the way you drive. You could also offer tips on brake safety and the importance of regular vehicle maintenance.

Autumn (September, October, November)

Fall is a busy time of year for many. With kids heading back to school, workplaces often return to a normal routine now that summer vacations are over, and one’s state of mind can severely impact their normal routine or their ability to adjust to any changes in the workplace or at home. An off-the-job safety topic that could help this is situational awareness—paying attention to your surroundings to improve personal safety.

October is well-known as fire safety month and home emergency planning is an off-the-job safety topic that can help with fire safety. November can bring a ton of off-the-job safety topics like Thanksgiving, Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, and National Seat Belt Day which could spark an important discussion on keystone habits.

Communication through toolbox talks is a great way to regularly engage your employees and help them think about safety in a new way.  Use the ideas above to help you generate ideas for off-the-job safety talk topics and work them into your regular mix of toolbox talks—it could improve employee engagement and help keep your workers safer.

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